Contemporary artists with global perspectives have similarly found conceptual potential in the Three Graces.
has reimagined them as three black men in athletic tees (Three Graces
, 2005). He revisited
the subject in 2012, painting the figures as thinner, younger men in jeans. Dense patterns overlay both iterations, harkening back to decorative art-historical motifs. The paintings ask viewers to rethink their conceptions of the ideal form: What if ultimate beauty and virtue resides in African-American men?
, for his part, challenged rigid definitions of gender in The Three Graces, New Mexico
(1988). His gelatin print imagines the Graces as masked, intersex figures. ’s
of the Graces feature three headless female figures draped in printed cotton textile. The British-Nigerian artist used patterns that refer to an intercontinental trade that allowed Western nations to colonize the design traditions in the lands they invaded.
Over the centuries, depictions of the Three Graces have become less about fealty to legend. Instead, they’re representations of what societies and individual artists find virtuous and beautiful. As long as moral and aesthetic perceptions continue to shift, the Graces will remain potent subject matter, endlessly renewable for an ever-diversifying group of artists.